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Treasure of the Caves: Part Five

by ssjelitegirl


As midnight came, new workers arrived and the other ones went home. Shad curled up next to a sack of apples and Saura leaned against the wall next to the window. They weren't disturbing anyone and nobody disturbed them, seeing that the two were really awfully tired. So the night passed and Loretta woke them up in the morning as the other shift arrived again.

     "What's wrong with these pirates?" Shad demanded, trotting in and out like crazy. "They all have ships, galleys and chefs but they prefer to come here and waste their gold instead of fishing their own food."

     "Some of that gold lands in our paws so don't complain," Saura suggested and kept on cooking, quietly and calmly as always, not caring much about his surroundings until his big brother galloped in again at noon, threw the tray down and announced with a wide grin:

     "Time to quit, Saura. The gang has arrived. Now we can finally go and find the hmmmpfff…"

     "My, how clumsy of me," the Zafara commented, releasing Shad's muzzle. "Let's go then. Find the housemaster and tell him about us quitting, okay?" He left the kitchen, made his way to a small table and greeted the siblings.

     "Looks like we've all been doing pretty well," he said, sitting down. "As soon as Shad gets here with our salary, we can get going."

     "And we might want to hurry up," Shad stated, trotting to the table with a bag of dubloons between his fangs and Ace the Wuzzle on his back. "The master…"

     "Get back here, ye lily livered landlubber!" the restaurant's boss roared from the other end of the room. Shad's family blinked, then all of a sudden they were out of the door and inside one of the boats. They were able to react pretty quickly when it came to drastic situations. Saura grabbed the oars and started rowing as fast as he could.

     "Shad?" Kat asked with a vague frown.

     "He only wanted to pay us both two dubloons," Shad protested. "I told him that we wanted more, the job wasn't easy, believe me… he disagreed, so I took the liberty of convincing Ace a little."

     Ace hissed. Convincing him usually meant poking him. As a general rule it was very effective.

     "So Ace cornered him and I grabbed the dubloons," the Lupe finished. Tsuki reached for the bag and opened it.

     "Fifteen dubloons; he has no reason to complain," he said. "I for instance got five, plus some priceless info." The others turned to look at him.

     "The treasure is behind a door guarded by something powerful, that's for sure," the Shoyru explained as the boat turned towards the pier. "I managed to get my paws on an interesting book. Apparently old Daggers really had some magical abilities because the door only opens when a puzzle is solved."

     "What puzzle?" Ice asked.

     "We'll know when we get there," the Shoyru replied with a frown. "Right now I have no idea. There were some little hints though… nothing too specific but still helpful." He hopped out of the boat - they had reached the shore. "We'd better go shopping now. How much do we have altogether?"

     After adding everything up, they faced Krawk Island's grocery stores with thirty two dubloons and, as Ice remarked, Tsuki's golden rings.

     "Try stealing my rings and spend the rest of your life as a Mortog," the Shoyru warned him, looking around in the store. "Saura, this is your category."

     After spending ten dubloons and stuffing their bags with all sorts of goods they were finally ready to face the unknown lands before them. With the village left behind them and the sandy plains in front of their feet they felt like the very first Neopets that had ever made it to the island's coast.

     "That'll be a long way," Ice commented, noting the difference between her short Ixi legs and the huge distance.

     "Once we made it this far, might as well continue," Kat replied and started walking. "Come on."

     About two hours later they were all bored to death.

     "I liked it better in the village," Shad complained, panting under the hot sun that was ruthlessly burning the dry plains and especially his dark fur. "At least there was something to do, something to look out for, some fun and action…"

     "Travellers!" someone's voice echoed over the lands. "Look before, my friends, more clueless fools have wandered onto our territory!"

     "You were saying, Shad?" Saura asked, raising his eyebrows. A huge cloud of dust and sand moved quickly towards them and eventually turned into a gang of about a dozen Neopets, each riding a Uni. They were instantly surrounded and a vicious-looking Krawk on a shadow Uni faced them.

     "Not many dare to come through these forgotten lands," he declared, looking down at the five pets. "The path is long and dangerous. But we gladly help all the explorers by making their luggage a little lighter."

     "So give us all your money," the Uni added. Obviously he didn't like fancy words as much as his buddy.

     "They're just robbers," Ice remarked, sounding a bit disappointed.

     "What, and you would've preferred some huge monsters?" Kat asked sarcastically.

     "They're still to come when you go farther," another Uni remarked. "Don't make us hurt you now…"

     "Hey guys, I've always through that travelling with Unis is a lot faster," Shad commented, looking around as a grin appeared on his face.

     "We all think that, we just never dare to say it out loud while Kat is around," Saura agreed. "Listen," he turned to the robbers, "I believe that you're able to help us a little."

     "And why should we do that?" one of them asked with a grim frown. Tsuki the mage thoughtfully raised a paw. The golden ring around it flashed in the blinding sunlight…

     Dozens of hooves thudded against the soil, manes and tails waved in the windless air and four scared little Mortogs huddled on the back of one of the Unis.

     "I should become a mage too," Shad stated, trying to keep himself balanced on the back of a big split Uni who galloped as fast as he could, fear gleaming in his eyes. "It looks like fun!"

     "It's a lot of hard work," Tsuki replied. He was curled up on the back of a white Uni who was even more scared. The Shoyru was sleepy. He was usually asleep on daytime and the hot sun added to the feeling.

     "But still fun," Shad claimed. The robbers that hadn't been turned into Mortogs kept quiet. Kat galloped behind everyone else, the only Uni who wasn't carrying anyone, and kept an eye on the gang.

     "How long would it take to reach the Smugglers' Cove?" Ice asked the Uni she was riding. The robber glanced back over his shoulder.

     "Three days, but we never go to the village that you'd have to pass if you want to go to the Cove, even if you turn us all into Mortogs. We're outlaws, we can't risk with anything like that."

     "Makes sense," Ice agreed. "Just take us as far as you can, got it?"

     About two hours later they were all bored to death again, except for Kat who took running as training and Tsuki who was now fully asleep.

     "Krawk Island is boring!" Shad declared. "Seriously, you'd think that a pirate island has more to offer than a plain and a bunch of robbers! Saura, I'm hungry."

     "I think we all are," Saura replied. "Let's take a break."

     Two days passed, nothing specific happened and they were already running out of food when they noticed rooftops looming in the distance one evening. All Unis stopped at once.

     "This is as far as we go," the shadow Uni stated. "Now you're on your own. Luckily," he added very quietly. Tsuki heard that but didn't mind - after all, he was right - and turned the four Mortogs back into Neopets instead.

     "Let's go, guys," he said and floated up in the air. The family followed him and the robbers hurried away, all glad to have gotten rid of the unwanted guests.

     "Should we spend the night in the village?" Ice asked, stretching her legs. "Or go straight for the Cove?"

     "We need more food," Saura replied, looking at the roofs. "I bet they have a market of some sort. I could use something fresh. Those biscuits taste like sawdust."

     The village turned out to be small, crowded and rather friendly, though Ice predicted that as soon as any of them would mention anything about Darkstar Daggers, they'd be driven out at once. They bought some food, found a nice tavern to spend the night in and the next morning turned towards the Smugglers' Cove.

     "Get ready to be stuck in here for days… Saura, do we have enough food?" Shad asked grimly when they stopped in front of the cove.

     "Yeah, and don't jinx it," the Zafara replied with a frown. "Tsuki, do you really think that this is where we have to go?"

     The Shoyru had already turned left. "Either this or the Fungus Cave; if what captain Threelegs said is true then it makes no big difference as the two caves are connected to each other. Let's go to the Fungus Cave instead; not many people have Krawks and that place isn't visited that often."

     "Do you really think that we'll find the treasure?" Kat asked, following her stepbrother.

     "Maybe," Tsuki replied, flying up the side of the hill that led to the cave. A few moments later they entered the cave.

     "Ugh!" Ice stated, peering at the smelly green fungus that was hanging down all the walls of the cave. "If this is really how those two thousand Krawks of Neopia came to be, I'm really glad to be an Ixi!"

     "Don't forget transmogrification potions," Kat replied, carefully lurking past the water streams and mouldy walls. Tsuki was in front of everyone else, quickly venturing deeper and deeper into the cave, looking around and memorizing everything he saw, smelled, heard, touched or sensed.

     "I'm pretty sure that those taste pretty much like fungus too," Ice remarked.

     "The morphing potion I drank back then tasted like liquid cheese with some touch of asparagus," Saura said with a frown - he had originally been a red Aisha before being morphed into a Zafara.

     "Dunno," Shad muttered with his mouth full, gnawing on a piece of fungus, "this stuff ain't too bad once you get used to the stickiness."

     The others stared at him.

     "Lovely, then we won't have to worry about you when we run out of food and need to starve for a few days," Ice said.

     "How far do you think we need to go, Tsuki?" Kat called. The Shoyru had almost disappeared into the depths of the cave but still his dark blue eyes flashed in the darkness when he turned around and shouted back:

     "These paths are long and form a huge maze. You might as well try to play hide-and-seek in the Mystery Island volcano. And let's face it, we don't even have a map. What are the odds that we'll find the right way?"

     "How are you planning to find it then?" Shad demanded, swallowing the last piece of fungus.

     "I don't know for sure," the voice echoed back; Tsuki had gotten very far already. "I believe that I may be able to sense anything that has to do with magic but it's not a completely reliable way. Hurry up or we'll get separated here."

     "You could just slow down instead," Saura complained, trotting faster and carrying Ace, their only source of light now as the caves were getting darker and darker. The other three followed him. Tsuki could see very well in the darkness so he didn't need the Wuzzle's flames to notice some odd marks carved inside the ancient wall. The others found him crouching by that wall when they caught up with him.

     "So… do those marks have anything to do with Daggers?" Kat asked, lowering her head.

     "I guess so," Tsuki nodded, quickly sliding his paw from right to left down the marks. "It's encrypted but not impossible to decipher. Looks like a riddle of some sort."

     "Say," Ice slowly asked, curiously peering at the marks that were carved about a foot above the floor, "what type of Neopet was that Daggers anyway?"

     "A Quiggle," Tsuki replied absently, still reading and deciphering as he went.

      "The Mootix Warrior might even stand a chance here," Shad commented with a grin.

     "Go ahead and tell him that," Kat grunted. "A villain is a villain. Is it getting you anywhere, Tsuki?"

     "Well, if I got this right, we need to go…" the Shoyru got up and looked farther into the darkness, "straight ahead, left, right, left again, past the hall of skeletons, right, straight ahead, left again, past another skeleton and then follow our noses. That old pirate wasn't as smart as he thought he was."

     "That's what he wrote in there?" Saura asked when they went on.

     "No, he wrote the exact opposite but as you may remember, he didn't want anyone to find the treasure," the Shoyru replied.

     "The hall of skeletons?" Ice asked with a vague frown.

     "Every bigger maze has one of those," Shad said and grabbed another piece of fungus. "Especially when an ancient treasure lies in that same maze."

     "Too true," Tsuki nodded. "How can you eat that stuff?"

     "It doesn't taste bad at all once you're used to that stuff Huntress feeds us all the time," the Lupe argued. The pets thought of all the spooky food and then tasted the fungus as well.

     "Dunno, I'd still take a Squishy Brain Wrap any time," Kat said.

     "Yeah, that at least has a nutritive value," Saura supported. "Hey Tsuki, what if we get lost?"

     "I never get lost in places I've already been to," the reply came from the dimness. "Once I've come in, I'm able to find a way out. Move it, you're too slow!"

     For a while they had no idea where they were going but Tsuki apparently had and suddenly they came into a vast hall that was practically filled with skeletons.

     "There has been a huge battle in here," Kat said, looking around.

     "A very long time ago indeed," Saura muttered. "Look at the armor. They're ancient. Did you find anything, Tsuki?" The Shoyru had crouched down by a wall but stood up again after Saura's question.

     "Just a short note this time," he said. "It says "Ask general"."

     Shad blinked. "That's weird…"

     "No it's not." Tsuki looked around. "The easiest riddles are always the hardest to solve. Find me a skeleton that has a fancier armor than the others, you hear me?"

     "Here's a fancypants," Ice shouted from the other corner of the hall, poking a skeleton with her hoof. "An armor made of silver, really… that stuff is a lot softer than steel, didn't he know that?"

     "I believe he found it out very quickly," Kat replied. "So this is the general, huh? What should he tell us?"

     Tsuki looked at the skeleton, then up at the walls where there were at least ten different pathways, each leading to complete darkness. Then he looked down again.

     "Look," he said, prodding the skeleton's arm that was pointing straight at one of the doorways.

     "That way in that case," Shad said, looking at the doorway opposite to the one the skeleton was pointing at. Tsuki smiled and nodded.

     "Very good, Shad. Looks like you're getting the idea of treasure seeking. Let's go."

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» Treasure of the Caves: Part One
» Treasure of the Caves: Part Two
» Treasure of the Caves: Part Three
» Treasure of the Caves: Part Four

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